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Appendix E: Rules of Engagement for U.S. Military Forces in Iraq

Issued by U.S. Central Command Combined Forces Land Component Commander

A laminated card with the following text was distributed to all U.S. Army and Marine personnel in Iraq.


  1. On order, enemy military and paramilitary forces are declared hostile and may be attacked subject to the following instructions:

a) Positive identification (PID) is required prior to engagement. PID is a reasonable certainty that the proposed target is a legitimate military target. If no PID, contact your next higher commander for decision

b) Do not engage anyone who has surrendered or is out of battle due to sickness or wounds.

c) Do not target or strike any of the following except in self-defense to protect yourself, your unit, friendly forces, and designated persons or property under your control:

  • Civilians

  • Hospitals, mosques, national monuments, and any other historical and cultural sites.

    d) Do not fire into civilian populated areas or buildings unless the enemy is using them for military purposes or if necessary for your self-defense. Minimize collateral damage.

    e) Do not target enemy infrastructure (public works, commercial communication facilities, dams), Lines of Communication (roads, highways, tunnels, bridges, railways) and Economic Objects (commercial storage facilities, pipelines) unless necessary for self-defense or if ordered by your commander. If you must fire on these objects to engage a hostile force, disable and disrupt but avoid destruction of these objects, if possible.

    1. The use of force, including deadly force, is authorized to protect the following:

  • Yourself, your unit, and friendly forces

  • Enemy Prisoners of War

  • Civilians from crimes that are likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, such as murder or rape

  • Designated civilians and/or property, such as personnel of the Red Cross/Crescent, UN, and US/UN supported organizations

    3. Treat all civilians and their property with respect and dignity. Do not seize civilian property, including vehicles, unless you have the permission of a company level commander and you give a receipt to the property’s owner.

    1. Detain civilians if they interfere with mission accomplishment or if required for self-defense.
    2. CENTCOM General Order No. 1A remains in effect. Looting and the taking of war trophies are prohibited.


    • Attack enemy forces and military targets.
    • Spare civilians and civilian property, if possible.
    • Conduct yourself with dignity and honor.
    • Comply with the Law of War. If you see a violation, report it.

    These ROE will remain in effect until your commander orders you to transition to post-hostilities ROE.

    AS OF 311330Z JAN 03

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    December 2003